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2023 Employee Benefits Trends to Prepare For

Quick look: While the HR and benefits experts at ExtensisHR can’t predict the future, they can foresee the top expected employee benefits trends in 2023. From an ongoing prioritization of mental health offerings to a need for enhanced employee communications, here’s what SMBs can expect to shape the benefits landscape in the new year.

Providing comprehensive employee benefits has always been important in attracting and retaining workers, but the current state of today’s workforce has pressured employers to offer personalized, well-rounded benefits packages.

The tight labor market is predicted to continue into the new year, meaning small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) especially must pay close attention to and be agile about their benefits offerings to compete with larger organizations.

ExtensisHR’s SVP of People and Culture, David Pearson, weighed in on the top expected employee benefits trends of 2023, outlined below.

Mental health offerings

According to Mental Health America, nearly 20% of U.S. adults (or roughly 50 million Americans) are experiencing a mental illness. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that over 20 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with substance use disorders in the last year.

Employees are affected regardless of whether they are the ones experiencing these issues or supporting a loved one who is. This makes offering mental health benefits and substance abuse support more important than ever.

SMBs can consider offering a health insurance plan that includes mental telehealth session coverage, as well as an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides free, confidential access to counselors to assist with a variety of situations pertaining to emotional wellbeing, personal relationships, financial or legal concerns, and more.

Family-focused benefits

Employee benefits designed to help people grow and support their families have recently been making headlines and for good reason.

Family-forming benefits can help those struggling with infertility, LGBTQ+ individuals, people who want to adopt, and singles who wish to raise a family. These programs can include consultations with specialists, access to a database of top providers, special discounts, educational resources, and personalized assistance.

It’s also critical to support employees after welcoming a child. SMBs should consider enhancing their maternity and paternity leave policies and be sure to include adoptive and foster parents in these policies as well.

Comprehensive leave policies

There are several other leave variations that employers should consider adjusting if needed. These include sick leave, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 70% of employees at small businesses receive.

Another type is bereavement leave, which is not federally mandated. Many organizations offer less than a week off to grieve a loved one, if any time at all, and the rules are blurry if the deceased is not a spouse or a blood relative. This protocol is becoming outdated, and businesses are beginning to offer more time off, implement “leave donations,” and provide more flexible schedules.

Employers should also brush up on their knowledge of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) laws relevant to their workforce. These policies vary by state and must be closely adhered to, and several states are slated to update their laws in 2023. Business leaders may find it beneficial to lean on the experts at a professional employer organization (PEO) to keep them up to date on FMLA legalities (and more).

Health and wellness perks

A recent CVS Health study revealed that many people feel the pandemic caused them to pay more attention to their health, and 54% of patients say holistic health care options are very or somewhat important to them.

And while benefits packages have come to include much more than just medical, dental, and vision insurance, these coverages remain critical. Research firm WTW’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that health benefits are now one of the top three drivers of employee attraction and retention, despite falling lower on the list in prior years.

Other promotional programs focused on employee wellness, fitness, and nutrition, like gym fee reimbursement, can also be considered.

Financial wellness

Inflation and a potential recession are on most people’s minds, making financial wellness benefits a must as the workforce enters the new year.

Helping employees achieve financial stability can look like many things:

  • Student loan repayment programs that contribute a certain amount each month toward an employee’s student loan balance
  • Tuition reimbursement can also help reskill or upskill staff and drive employee engagement and retention
  • Access to financial advisors and training on investing, budgeting, etc.
  • Access to 401(k) retirement plans and 529 education savings plans
  • And more

All these benefits can also feed into an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives by helping certain socioeconomic levels become more financially stable.

A multigenerational approach

Every employee wants and needs different things, and an essential part of offering a tailored benefits package is understanding the different generations and demographics within your workforce. For example, a long-tenured worker’s needs have likely shifted over time. When they began working at the company, they may have had a growing family and prioritized their salary and health benefits. But as they have inched closer to retiring, they may focus more on their retirement savings and 529 plans for their aging children.

Today’s labor force includes baby boomers, Generation X, millennials, and Generation Z. And in just a few years, the oldest members of the Alpha Generation will be joining the workforce, too. Employers must ask themselves each year what their changing employee base wants and how they can reasonably pivot to meet those needs.

A need for more communication

To succeed, organizations need to provide their staff with benefits, education on the value those benefits bring, and awareness of their available options.

A whopping one-third of workers report not understanding their health coverage, and 62% don’t feel they can turn to their employers with health-related questions, making it critical for businesses to hone their benefits communication strategies. This could look like refreshing outdated benefits materials, personalizing benefits messaging, using more concise language, emphasizing calls to action, and asking employees for feedback on how to improve.

Stay on top of employee benefits trends in 2023 and beyond

Offering an appealing array of benefits plans and optimizing your benefits communications strategies will remain of utmost importance to businesses as the new year unfolds.

While following through on these things can reward organizations with attracting top talent, retaining valuable employees, and boosting benefit plan participation, doing so involves time and resources that many SMBs may not have.

That’s where PEOs can help. A PEO like ExtensisHR specializes in benefits administration, management, and compliance, allowing companies to reap the rewards of a well-oiled benefits strategy without investing much time or energy.

ExtensisHR offers a variety of competitively priced benefits designed for a multigeneration workforce, including:

Additionally, ExtensisHR’s HR, benefits, and risk and compliance experts are dedicated to helping SMBs develop appropriate policies, sending regular, cohesive benefits communications to employees, and more.

Is refreshing your company’s benefits offerings and strategies on your New Year’s resolution list? Contact the professionals at ExtensisHR today.

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